Information outline VS. Presentation Outline

Information outline VS. Presentation Outline

Part 1: Information outline

Information outline: It is an outline you have for your information in speech or writing.

You have probably already seen, used, or even created outlines at some point or another! Outlines are like the blueprint of your writing, as they are the summary, or breakdown, of main and supporting ideas. The more detail provided in the outline, the easier writing will become. Just like an architect uses the blueprint to organize the details and plans for the project they are working on, you will use an outline the same way for your writing.

Outlines are very beneficial when it comes to organizing information for speaking / writing because they:

  • Put ideas in logical order.
  • Show the relationship between ideas/material/evidence.
  • Provide a summary of main ideas and supporting evidence.

In creating your outline, you can, for instance, use a comparison-contrast, cause-and-effect, or problem-solution model, you can give information chronologically, or you can begin with your weakest point and move to your strongest. As you structure your outline, you can use either phrases or complete sentences, but be consistent.

The following image of a basic outline shows one overall topic (It is important to work), provides a list of main ideas/categories relating to that topic, and then goes on to list sub-sections that can be used to further explain or support the main ideas/categories. This outline provides a basic summary of the information, shows the relationship between the ideas, and then puts them in logical order.



Thesis: It is important to work.

  1. Work gives us something worthwhile to do
    1. Allows us to use the skills we've learned.
    2. Allows us to gain new skills.
    3. Keeps us from getting into too much trouble.
      1. Too much free time can be detrimental.
        1. Spend all our time watching daytime television.
          1. TV can be addictive.
          2. TV often portrays violence and illegal acts.
          3. TV may cause bad behavior.
        2. Spend all our time playing video games.
          1. Video games can be addictive.
          2. Video games often portray violence and illegal acts.
          3. Video games may cause bad behavior.
        3. Our thoughts can turn to bad or even illegal deeds.
      2. Work allows us to earn money.
        1. With money we can buy the things we need.
        2. We can buy food.
        3. We can buy clothing.
        4. We can buy a car.
        5. We can buy a home.
      3. With money we can help others in need.


Part 2: Presentation Outline

Presentation Outline: It is an outline you have for your presentation in speech or writing. Its purpose is to help you shape your thinking, organize your thoughts, and make sure your Information  or material is presented logically. It should take the general direction of your pitch, plus summaries of your key points.

It helps you how your speech / writing can help engage your audience, and how to create a flawless outline of your own. Let’s get stuck in.

What’s the purpose of your presentation?

This is the foundation on which you will build your whole presentation — so make sure you know the answer to this question. A good starting point is to think about the overall purpose. There are six possible purposes your presentation might have:

  • Educate
  • Inform
  • Persuade
  • Inspire action
  • Inspire or motivate
  • Entertain

Stories have been, and will always be, a powerful tool for bringing people together. Great stories persuade and inform; the best stories inspire and stay with us. But we don’t often see this happening in the boardroom, where graphs and quarterly results preside.

Information, statistics and numbers suck the life out of a presentation. We think these details will speak for themselves. But… they don’t because, well… they’re boring, and they make us switch off. If you want to inspire your audience, you need to weave those stats into a story. But where do you begin, and how do you start?


Storytelling isn’t something only a few select people are good at. Anyone can master the art with a little practice. It doesn’t even require heaps of creativity because the truth is, stories are formulaic, and once you’ve got the formula down, the rest runs on autopilot.

Let’s look at how to build notes and ideas into a compelling presentation outline, using one of the formulas below.

1.Information (Facts) and Story

Mixing storytelling with facts works in a kind of mutually supportive cycle. Information (Facts)add substance to the story; the story adds interest to the facts.

In this structure, you weave the two together and move back and forth between the two.

  • Start with a ‘what if’ question. For example, if you were pitching a vacuum cleaner, your initial sales pitch might be ‘what if you didn’t have to lose suction?’
  • From here, work in facts that illustrate the way things currently are. To continue with our example, it might be current statistics on traditional vacuums losing suction. Keep alternating facts with fiction throughout the body of your presentation.
  • End on a high note that makes the listeners feel like they learned something and want to move to action because of it. For example, to invest in your new product, or to sponsor your new app.
  1. The hero’s journey

From Odysseus to Chihiro, adventure stories typically feature a hero who goes on a journey fraught with peril and learns a vital lesson at the end of it. It’s a formula employed by thousands of writers — and you can draw from it to add some drama to your presentation.

This structure works really well for inspirational personal stories, or tales about a company from its humble beginnings to the success it is today.

  • Begin somewhere neutral. The situation is neither ideal nor unbearable.
  • Introduce a challenge — one that needs to be solved.
  • Present a worsening situation. The problem is being addressed, but things are still getting worse.
  • Talk about rock bottom. The situation seems impossible; there is apparently no way forward and all seems lost. Until…
  • Talk about a new discovery that offers hope.
  • Armed with your new abilities, you can tackle the issue head-on.
  • Talk about resolving the problem, but instead of returning to the way things were before, the hero (you) discovers an even better way of living.
  • Finish with a lesson, which you can share to inspire your audience.


  1. The Pitch

The ‘pitch’ style of presentation is commonly used by salespeople. The goal is to show how a product or idea can help an individual overcome a hurdle toward a positive outcome. The story should be relatable, so the audience can picture themselves in the situation and, therefore, benefitting from the solution.

  • Start with a summary of the way things are in a way that’s easy to relate to.
  • Introduce the problem or hurdle that you need to solve. Make it relatable to further help your audience put themselves in the situation.
  • The solution: give your audience a glimpse into a possible solution.
  • The fork in the road: Give your audience a couple of options for solving the problem. Offer an average option first, then follow up with a better one.
  • Close: Choose the better option and explain why that’s the best one (and only real suitable choice).
  • Finish up by telling the audience exactly how to solve the problem, step by step.
  • But that’s not all: Before you finish, talk about extra benefits that extend beyond simply solving the problem. Finish on an uplifting high.
  1. The explanation

This presentation format is for when you want to teach your audience something — whether that’s a process, a new skill, or a way to overcome a problem. It has similarities with the fact and story structure, insomuch as facts should weave into the story.

  • Explain how things are at the moment, what the goal looks like, and how you plan to get there. You can even start with a story to add emotional interest from the get-go.
  • Take your first step on the journey toward the final destination.
  • Add more steps that build on this.
  • Take a moment to recap on the points you’ve covered so far while tying them into the main point. This will help your audience visualize the ground you’ve covered and see where you’re heading.
  • Add the finishing pieces to the puzzle and lead your audience to the end.
  • By the end of your journey, your audience should feel as though they’ve learned something new.
  1. The Opportunity

A close relative of the pitch, this three-part structure swaps a hurdle for an opportunity. Here, you want to show your audience that a problem they thought they had actually has an easy fix.

  • Start with the situation as it is now.
  • Next, add a ‘but’ — this could be a small hiccup that stops things from being as good as they could be. For example, our chocolate pudding company is doing really well. But we could be doing better if we changed supplier.
  • Talk about the opportunity, with as many facts and stats as possible to make it feel achievable and real.
  • Add a conclusion.
  • Explain why the product or service meets the challenges raised. Add more stats and facts to support your point.


How to plan your presentation

Now you’ve worked out your structure, it’s time to start building your presentation, pulling in all your points and forming them into a story.

Storyboarding is the best way to do this. Directors use storyboards to map out their films scene-by-scene — you’re going to use it to map out your presentation, slide-by-slide.

The trick here is to use broad strokes without adding too much detail. Make it too wordy and you’ll lose your top-level view, which is important for assessing the arc of your story. Ideally, have one or two sentences on each slide summarizing what each one will address.

You can do this with pen and paper, but when it comes to final drafts and editing, it’s a good idea to move your drawings over to a digital format. It looks far neater, and it means that if you need to change something, it’s as simple as deleting or editing a cell or slide rather than you having to start over.

Once you’ve got your rough storyboard more or less ready, it’s time to start building your presentation.

Your presentation outline

Using a presentation template will be a big help here. First, choose your template — then start adding pre-made slides according to your storyboard. For those who didn’t plan, this can be a bit of a nightmare that usually ends up with you shuffling slides around indefinitely. For those who planned, it’s simply a matter of putting all your hard work in place, then spicing it up with pictures, video, and audio.

Top Tip: If your slides are there to support your spoken words, try not to make them too wordy. Talking too much will distract your audience, whose attention will be split between what’s on screen and your voice. Instead, opt for images and video. If you’re sharing your presentation slides without presenting them, keep your communication simple and succinct. A wall of text is never engaging.

Finally, rehearse your presentation. According to experts, 10 is the magic number when it comes to practicing speeches. The more you practice, the better it’ll flow, the easier it’ll be for your listeners to get sucked into your story. And when it comes to persuading, inspiring, informing, or selling — having a captive and engaged audience is half the battle.